for my dad

my dadHe’s gone now
An old farmer
Who loved his sheep
Who loved his wheat
Who loved his land

My dad the gentleman
A gentle man
Who never raised his hand
Who never raised his voice
Who never raised a harsh word

Except when he lost his dignity
The indignity of old age
The indignity of loss
Loss of continence
Loss of independence

Ninety seven and counting
Only we are counting no longer
The years have stopped
Ceased to roll
Ceased

When dad was alive
Death was not an option
Life would continue
Life would roll on
Life would not be swallowed by death

For my dad
Now in death
Life is the only option
Life in Christ
Life eternal

My dad loved quietly
My dad was quietly loved
For my dad love lasted a lifetime
My dad was faithful in his love
And God has been faithful in his love

For my dad

helpless and hopeless

I have been re-reading Luke 8. It gives the impression that we humans are a pretty helpless and hopeless lot. We have proved we just cannot control four elements that have a major influence over our lives: nature, evil, sickness and death.

The disciples were caught in a storm as they crossed the sea in a leaky boat and were in fear of their lives. (I know that helpless feeling of being on a cruise ship in rough seas, sick as a dog and nowhere to go.) Jesus was asleep in the boat, but among the disciples there was no help and no hope.

The demon-possessed man had been in a really bad way for years with nowhere to go for release. (We can ‘treat’ this problem with drugs now, but not cure it.) There was no help and no hope for him.

The woman with the bleeding condition had spent a fortune on doctors who obviously had no cure for her. (Again, we can cure many physical illnesses with drugs and/or surgery, but there are many we cannot.) For her there was no help and no hope.

When the 12 year old girl died, they told Jesus not to bother going any further to her home to heal her. She was dead. Once dead, always dead. No help. No hope.

Helpless and hopeless.

But Jesus was present, willing and able on each occasion to meet their needs. He recognised the inadequacy of the people involved to deal with their situations: the disciples at the mercy of nature, the demoniac unable to resist the demons, the woman, broke and an outcast in her society because of her unclean condition, and death – well, who can resist death?

Some of the recipients of Jesus’ mercy had great faith. Others had little. But Jesus is Help for the helpless and Hope for the hopeless regardless of how much faith we have.

He has the power and authority over all aspects of human existence including life, not just raising people from death only to die again, but raising them to the life for which we all strive: eternal life without wants or needs or strife or angst or disease or sickness or death.

Eternal life and peace with him.

in the face of death

Yesterday, Les and I visited a friend we have known for around 35 years. She has a matter of weeks to live as the result of cancer in her lungs spreading to her brain.

Our friend, Ethne by name, said the last two weeks have been wonderful because so many of her relatives and friends have visited her. Her laughter rang throughout her home as she spilled her drink over herself because she is losing strength in her hands.

Far from being saddened and depressed, although we are sad at the thought of losing such a treasure, our spirits were uplifted and we left with a smile on our faces and two hand made cushions she wanted us to have.

Ethne has no fear of death because she knows she will soon be in glory with her Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. She has been a Christian all her adult life and, in the face of death: her final hours on the earth, she is assured that nothing will separate her from her God.

Ethne has been a blessing to so many in her life, including Les and me and our family, and even in her final days, she continues to be a blessing to us.

Her reward in heaven will be great.

and life goes on

We are as the grass that withers and dies and is forgotten.

dead grassSadly, a young man I have known since he was a young boy of eleven years recently died. The ravages of cancer took him. He was only thirty something.

My eighty two year old mother died last year and, at the time, I felt a great sense of loss. Mum, who had always been there, was there no longer. That sense of loss is slowly diminishing although it does occasionally well up, especially when I think back on our years and I want to talk to her about her early life or her family as we did when she was alive.

The death of a family member or a friend has always left me with a sense of wonder. It strikes me that this life is so fragile and can be so easily and sometimes so quickly extinguished.

What is even more striking to me is that the world does not stop when someone dies. Those of us who knew the one who died do pause, albeit momentarily, to attend a funeral or memorial service, but on the whole, people still carry on with their frivolous and capricious life affairs. With one breath we sympathise, even empathise, with the next we crack a joke or revel in how good the coffee is.

In short, we enjoy life in the face of death.

This raises the question: who will stop when I die? Who will mourn for me longer than a fleeting moment?

The answer is fairly obvious: probably my family and close friends. I will doubtless leave a Marcia or Mum or Nanna space in their hearts for longer than a moment, but then they will carry on enjoying their lives as they ought, as I did when my mum died and when Cameron died.

God, through David in Psalm 103:15-16, asserts that “As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field, for the wind passes over it and it is gone and its place knows it no more.” This is the way we have been created: to be born, to live, to die, and to then be forgotten.

The real blessing is that this life is but for a moment in eternity. When we die in Christ, then the living really begins. The next verse shows that the Lord’s steadfast love “is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him.” We are remembered by God, not in mourning, but with a deep and abiding affection.

Live on Cam.